The best tracks posted on SC over the past week;
No, unfortunately I don’t have twenty-three extras from Blonde Redhead; just the two bonus tracks from the Japanese release of their latest album, the exquisite 23. The first track, ‘Signs Along The Path’, has been available for a while now, albeit in unmixed form, available for download only as working files for fans to remix themselves. You can listen to those remixes here, and also vote for your favorite. The other track, ‘(We Are A Real Team) Harry & I’, is an eight-minute monster of a track, slipping even further in to ambiance than the rest of 23. While neither track strays to far from the Blonde Redhead formula, they’re still beautiful additions to an already stunnung album.
People have been pestering me to make a weekly playlist for a while now, so here it is; the best music post on SC over the past week.Yeah, it’s imperfect, but things will get better. Now the only days of the week I don’t have features for are Thursday and Saturday. Any suggestions?
Blonde Redhead’s 14 year run as a band can split into two distinctive parts. The first part, from 1993 to 2000, is representative of their rise to fame, essentially through emulating Sonic Youth, but with their own twists. The second part is a bit more complicated. In 2002, Kazu Makino was trampled by a horse, and severely injured. This affected Blonde Redhead as whole. Their first album after Kazu’s accident, Misery Is A Butterfly, was a departure for the band, with a much more dreamy sound than their previous works. It was received well by fans and critics alike, but both wondered exactly where Blonde Redhead would go next. Would they return to their roots, or continue in this new direction? And if they did continue, for how long would they be able to keep things interesting. 23, their latest album, answers all these questions.
23 is a very good record. Kazu’s vocals are more haunting than ever before, melding with the instrumentation like a river winding deep through a forest. Her voice is one of the most distinctive of modern indie, and it’s clearly the high point of the record. While Kazu’s vocal are gorgeous on their own, the instrumentation lifts them to stunning. If you grew up listening to Prince, like I did, you’ll hear one of his techniques at work hear. Often, he’d let his voice slip into the exact same note as a synth or guitar, and the two would become impossible to distinguish from one another. While the presentation here is clearly different, the idea is the same; the instrumentation and vocals support each other, and the result is nothing short of amazing.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. 23‘s most glaring flaw is that Kazu doesn’t sing all the vocals. In several songs Amedeo Pace takes charge of them. While he’s capable of fine vocals (‘Publisher’), he simply doesn’t stand a chance against Kazu. After Kazu’s masterpiece, ‘The Dress’, it’s hard not to be bored with Amedeo’s ‘SW’. It’s no surprise that he’s responsible for most of 23’s filler tracks.
Luckily, Kazu takes the majority of the vocals, and her tracks are, for the most part, good enough to make us forget about Amedeo’s. So, while it’s still early to say anything for sure, I think 23 might be the best that Blonde Redhead has ever done. At it’s best, it’s utterly entrancing, and at it’s worst, it’s merely pleasant. This album is worth every cent you spend on it. 23 will be released tomorrow, 4/10, on 4AD. You can pre-order it here.
By now you’ve probably figured out that I’m a fan of 23, Blonde Redhead’s latest album. Since it appears you guys are, too, I thought I should pass on this video. It’s the official video for ’23’, and it fits the song, as well as the band, very well. The camera focuses on each band member performing their part, but through a wall if smooth distortion. It’s quite entrancing, much like the album. You can expect a full review of 23 tomorrow.
Since you all seemed to love The Dress so much, I thought I’d give you another taste of 23. While it doesn’t top The Dress, Dr. Strangluv is still one of the 23’s high points (even though the album consists almost solely of high points). It’s also considerably more upbeat than most of the album. I’d love to comment on the lyrics, but Makino’s still stunning voice melds far too well into the song to be able to make the lyrics out. Even after listening to 23 for several weeks, I’m still stunned by it’s beauty.
This song literally sent a chill down my spine the first time I heard it. Whether it’s the ethereal instrumentation, or Kazu Makino’s delicate, frigid vocals that caused this reaction, I’m not not sure, but this is an amazing song. The production fits the song perfectly, with a distant melody playing to such lyrics as “don’t let the dress trick you, I love you less now that I know you.” Incredible. The Dress is from Blonde Redhead’s new album, 23, due out on April 10th.